Early Apollo Results: Even Mass Media Can Target Narrowly

Research Pilot Finds P&G Can Single Out Consumers

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Even mass-media advertising can effectively single out and influence brand loyalists and switchers, according to early results from Project Apollo, the closely watched research pilot that electronically monitors consumers' media usage and purchases.

A presentation in Shanghai, China, last week by executives of Procter & Gamble Co. and Apollo-backer Arbitron at the Esomar World Research Conference included the first data to emerge from the project. After more than 15 months of recruiting marketer participants, the project began earlier this year with 5,400 U.S. panelists carrying Arbitron's Portable People Meters to monitor their media exposure and track their retail purchases with handheld scanners.

Early conclusions of the study, which involved laundry detergent and a large "Brand X," believed to be P&G's category-leading Tide, were that delivery of media weight does vary significantly among segments of a brand's consumer base -- even with such mass media as TV and a large brand with high household penetration.

P&G Manager-Global Media and Communication Bernhard Glock and Linda Dupree, senior VP-Portable People Meter development, presented the results of the study, which was also authored by media consultant Leslie Wood and Don Gloeckler, P&G manager-media research North America. The behavior-based data could provide "even more intelligence for smaller brands," the study's authors concluded.

The study found significant and highly targetable differences in media choices among consumer segments of the "Brand X" detergent in question. For example, Brand X loyalists were 16 times more likely and brand switchers 11 times more likely than the general population of women ages 25-54 to have watched one particular movie on an unnamed cable network.

The pilot also found the P&G brand's media plan is already hitting its targets fairly well, even without Apollo-based insights. Consumers who buy Brand X occasionally but not regularly were more than twice as likely to have seen the brand's ads as loyalists had within four weeks of their detergent purchases -- that means P&G wasn't wasting much money preaching to the already converted.

Though most initial Apollo findings deal with targeting, the real value of the system is in showing whether ads are changing behavior, said media consultant Erwin Ephron, who said he does work for Arbitron. Getting both the media and purchase response from the same people "gets rid of an awful lot of noise in the other systems where we attempt to integrate data."

The study found Apollo panelist compliance and representation of the broader population "acceptable" and within the ranges of Arbitron PPM panelists generally.

The most underrepresented population segment was women ages 18-34, who indexed at only 76% of the general population. The most overrepresented segment was college-educated female heads of household, who indexed at 116 to the general population. Larger, poorer and Hispanic families also were somewhat underrepresented.

Apollo panelist compliance with PPM usage was at 76% during the study, about on par for PPMs broadly. Consumers who were carrying the pager-size tracker of signals from TV and radio did so about 15 hours a day.

Besides P&G, Unilever, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Pfizer and SC Johnson are other current marketer participants in Apollo. Arbitron is hoping the results will prove intriguing to a larger pool of marketers who, if they joined, could fund expansion of the panel and move it closer to the originally envisioned 30,000 members. This expansion would, in turn, provide the numbers necessary to make the data more usable for smaller brands. Initial plans would have cost even midsize marketers upwards of $1 million annually, based on 0.5% of marketing spending; only P&G was willing to sign on at that price.
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